The event is the fourth in the EEF Brexit roadshow series. It was set up in response to EEF members’ calls for greater clarity on the implications of Brexit on their day-to-day operations. EEF are playing a leading role in helping business prepare for this major change. Alongside the roadshow programme, EEF has recently launched an online Brexit toolkit providing a detailed and easy to use resource for businesses who import and export goods, whatever sector they work in.

A keynote speech was provided by Jill Rutter, Programme Director at the Institute for Government. The Institute for Government is a leading think tank working to make government policy more effective. Jill has significant policy and government experience, having spent time in the Number 10 Policy Unit, and as Director of Strategy and Sustainable Development at Defra, and Treasury Communications Director.

Underlining the event’s importance, EEF research into Brexit priorities for manufacturers in the North West, undertaken in partnership with ComRes and published in September, found that 75% of North West manufacturers say they are not prepared for a no-deal Brexit and half (49%) do not plan on preparing for ‘no deal’. In terms of key priorities, 83% say that it is important that the Brexit negotiations ensure there are no tariffs on EU goods and 81% say the same of ensuring full access to the single market.

Hilary Douglas, Head of Corporate Affairs at EEF, said: “Manufacturers remain desperate for clarity as we reach a pivotal point in Brexit negotiations, and the high levels of interest in [the] event and our research into the North West’s views on Brexit underlines this. Getting Brexit right for manufacturers is not only critical for the sector, but also for the UK economy.

“Delegates at our Manchester conference heard from a range of EU experts, both from within Government and the wider policy and academic environment. We aim to provide a clearer picture of the challenges Brexit may present and the tools urgently needed to develop detailed and robust contingency plans.”

Jill Rutter, keynote speaker, said: “Manufacturers across this region seek clarity on Brexit as the Government enters into final negotiations. Manchester has a rich history of manufacturing and the industry must make preparations for all outcomes in the coming weeks and months.

“This conference is important in bringing manufacturers together to voice concerns and get advice from Government and policy experts to ensure they are well positioned to continue Manchester’s rich manufacturing traditions.”